Long, narrow pipe through which darts or other projectiles are blown. Primarily a hunting weapon, it is rarely used in warfare. It has been used by aboriginal peoples in Malaysia and elsewhere in South Asia, southern India and Sri Lanka, Madagascar, northwestern South America, and Central America. Blowguns vary in length from 18 in. to more than 23 ft (45 cm to 7 m) and are often made of cane or bamboo. Darts are usually made of palm-leaf midribs or wood or bamboo splinters 1.5–40 in. (4–100 cm). The dart must fit the tube snugly, so that a puff of human breath will cause it to fly from the tube. To be effective against quarry larger than small birds, blowgun darts require poison.
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A blowgun (also called a blowpipe or blow tube) is a simple weapon consisting of a small tube for firing light projectiles, or darts. The wielder blows into one end, forcing the dart out the other. Its propulsive power is its user's respiratory muscles.
Many cultures have used this weapon, but various indigenous rain forest tribes in South America and South East Asia are the best known wielders. Blowguns are very rarely used by these tribes as antipersonnel weapons, but primarily to hunt small game such as monkeys.
Today’s modern man uses the lung-powered blowgun with tranquilizer darts to capture wildlife or to stun caged dangerous animals. Herpetologists find the blowgun extremely useful in capturing elusive lizards with stun darts. Today, many people are finding that blowguns offer quite a challenging sport. With different darts to choose from, blowguns are finding their way into everyday society. With the introduction of paintballs and stun darts, the blowgun offers a wide variety of sporting activities.
Some modern blowguns have removable sections, and as a result, paintball adaptors have been made so that people can use blowguns as back up weapons. Some may even play it similarly to slingshot paintball.
There are several competition styles practiced around the world. A standardization of competition style, based upon fukiya, is being pursued by the International Fukiyado Association and hoped to become an Olympic event. It is a 10 meter target shooting, using a standardized barrel caliber and length, and a standardized dart length and weight, as outlined by IFA.
Two other styles are also being pursued to make up the Olympic blowgun event, both based upon the Cherokee Annual Gathering Blowgun Competition. The Field Style competition is similar to the winter Biathlon, where the shooter runs from a starting line to a target lane, shoots and retrieves the darts, and continue to the next station. The course length varies from 400 to 800 m or longer, with between 9 to 16 targets at various heights and shooting distances. The final style is the Long Distance target shoot. The target is a circle of 24 cm diameter, and the firing line is 20 meters away. Three darts are fired by each shooter, at least one must stick in the target. All successful shooters move to the next round, moving back 2 meters each time.
The sport blowgun is managed by International Fukiya Association, with which national associations in the United States, France, Germany and the Philippines are affiliated.
In Canada, the blowgun is classified as a prohibited weapon and is defined as any device that "being a tube or pipe designed for the purpose of shooting arrows or darts by the breath". Any imported blowguns must be deactivated by either drilling a hole or by blocking it. On the other hand, like many prohibited weapons, it can be used in a legal shooting range, and can be transported through legal channel.
In the U.S.A. it is legal to have and use except in the states of California, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Rhode Island.